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Europe Funds Kidney Transplant Biomarker Initiative

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Thirteen European research institutes and universities will work together using €6 million ($7.8 million) in funding from the European Commission to develop biomarker-based technologies for determining the health status of kidney transplants.

Led by France's National Institute of Health and Medical Research, or INSERM, the Biomarkers of Renal Graft Injuries in Kidney Allograft Recipients consortium includes several partnering institutes in France, Belgium, and Germany, and one in Sweden, INSERM said yesterday.

The consortium, which also goes by BIOMARGIN, aims to use a range of omics techniques to tackle a major problem that confronts patients who have had kidney transplants. Although modern techniques have made it less likely that patients will suffer acute rejection of grafted kidneys in the first months after transplant, the long-term outcomes for these patients have only improved slightly.

One of the impediments to improving the long-term outcomes is that finding lesions in transplanted kidneys requires biopsies, which is invasive and provides results that can be difficult to interpret, according to INSERM. "It is thus necessary to develop reliable, non-invasive methods to diagnose allograft lesions in order to improve treatment and thus extend the long-term survival of the allograft," Pierre Marquet, coordinator of the BIOMARGIN project, said in a statement.

The consortium members plan to study genes, proteins, lipids, and metabolites that could be used as biomarkers to detect these lesions and to make it possible to analyze the mechanisms that may be involved in long-term survival of the kidney and the patient.

They also plan to analyze blood and urine samples, as well as graft biopsies, for comparison purposes to better understand the lesion mechanisms.

Specifically, they seek to discover, select, and validate lesion markers in grafted kidneys, provide doctors with non-invasive, reliable diagnostic tests and algorithms for monitoring transplant patients, and to understand the mechanisms that are involved in the creation of lesions to provide new molecular targets and tools for analyzing biopsies.

The study will be divided into four phases, including a retrospective, case-control study of samples from biobanks; selection of biomarkers for diagnosing histological lesions in the graft; validation of these biomarkers in a representative sample of transplant patients; and validation of the biomarker's diagnostic and prognostic performance in newly transplanted kidneys.

Along with INSERM, other partners in the project include its subsidiary INSERM Transfert; the Public Assistance Hospital of Paris; the French atomic and alternative energy commission, CEA; the French National Center of Scientific Research; the University of Leuven; Belgium's Vision on Technology institute; Mosaiques Diagnostics of Germany; Hannover Medical School; the University of Paris Descartes; France's Cardinal Systems; Sweden's AcureOmics; and the Hospital Center of the University of Limoges.